Conference organisers' roles vary, but the work encompasses identifying potential business, researching, writing, planning and running all aspects of conferences on behalf of a client or own organisation. As well as planning a conference in advance, they will usually be present during the event to deal with any issues as they arise.
- Designing anything from online registration forms to floral arrangements
- Advising on anything from eco-friendly practices to appropriate registration fees
- Researching suitable venues and ensuring all necessary equipment is available
- Arranging insurance cover
- Collating delegate lists and conference proceedings
- Arranging interpreting and secretarial services
- Overseeing everything from submission of abstracts to admission, to sessions
- organising conference bank accounts, delegate badges, accommodation, tours, catering, exhibition and transport etc
- Preparing delegate packs and papers
- Post-event activities, such as producing press releases, distributing further documents to delegates, and analysing feedback from speakers and delegates.
Travel: during the working day and absence from home overnight is occasional.
Working hours: these are mainly Monday-Friday office hours, but also unsocial hours including evenings and weekends.
Location: opportunities exist mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: commonly possible as many work freelance.
Large companies; hotels; higher education institutions; local authorities; charities; specialist conference companies; self-employment.
Entry to, and progression within the business, is competitive. Promotion is from conference assistant to manager, with optional movements into other sectors including consultancy and self-employment.
Salaries vary depending on employer. They are typically higher in the private sector, with high earning potential for successful freelance workers on a fee and commission basis.
Open to non graduates and graduates of all disciplines.
Other relevant degree subjects
- Modern languages
- Business-related studies
- Hotel and catering management
- Public relations
While not a prerequisite for entry, graduates with the appropriate postgraduate qualifications are likely to compete favourably.
Training is usually on the job but external courses are also available.
Tips for applications
Decide whether it is conferences or exhibitions in which your interest lies, as they are two totally different disciplines.
Pre-entry experience is recommended. Many entrants have experience in the hotel or travel industry but sales, marketing or research backgrounds are also useful. Build up any experience which could develop and demonstrate the required skills. Try to gain seasonal work experience with a conference organiser during your studies.
Skills and qualities
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Good interpersonal skills, organisational ability and time management
- Attention to detail and ability to work effectively under pressure
- Customer focus is vital
- Negotiation skills
- Willingness to work unsociable hours
- Languages and IT skills are useful.